January 6, 2017

Trump Might Be Thinking About a Moon Base (Source: The Atlantic)
Last week, upon leaving the president-elect’s office, Douglas Brinkley, a historian and conservationist, reported that Trump “was very interested in a man going to the moon.” Before that point, the entirety of Trump’s utterances of space policy consisted of two sentences: “Honestly I think NASA is wonderful!” and “Right now, we have bigger problems… We've got to fix our potholes.”

Brinkley’s remark suggests he might be thinking about a moon base, an idea long-favored by Newt Gingrich, one of Trump’s advisers. The constitution of his transition landing team at NASA, which includes lunar advocates, would seem to bear this out.

The principal arguments for a moon base involve digging mines and building fuel depots. Though the moon lacks the resources to ever be truly self-sustaining, it only takes a few days to reach from Earth. If the U.S. decides that the goal of human spaceflight should be to gather resources, the moon and its quarry of helium-3 will be a compelling target. The isotope is extremely rare on Earth because of our magnetosphere. The moon has no such protection, and for billions of years it has collected the stuff by way of an unyielding fusillade from solar winds. (1/4)

Arianespace Wins Two Satellite Launches (Source: Space News)
Arianespace announced Wednesday it has won contracts for the launch of two satellites. Arianespace will launch Intelsat-39 in the second half of 2018 and Sky Perfect JSAT's JCSAT-17 in 2019. The company said it signed 13 contracts overall in 2016, including Intelsat-39 and JCSAT-17, and recorded revenues of 1.4 billion euros in the year. Arianespace is planning 12 launches in 2017: seven using the Ariane 5, three of the Vega, and two Soyuz missions. (1/4)

NOAA Satellite Launch Slips From March to 3rd Quarter (Source: Space News)
The launch of the JPSS-1 weather satellite has slipped again. The polar-orbiting weather satellite, previously scheduled to launch in March, is now scheduled for launch between July and September. NOAA said "technical issues discovered during environmental testing" of the satellite and one of its instruments, as well as problems with its ground system, caused the latest delay. Similar issues last year delayed the launch from January to March. (1/4)

SpaceX Welder's Bid To Skirt Sex Bias Trial Loss Grounded (Source: Law360)
A California judge on Tuesday denied a former SpaceX welder's request that he consider evidence that wasn't admitted to the jury that last year cleared the aerospace company on claims of sexual harassment and bias, saying he won't make a "sub rosa" contravention of the jury's decision. (1/4)

To Compete with Silicon Valley for Engineers, Aerospace Firms Start Recruitment in Pre-Kindergarten (Source: LA Times)
Silicon Valley and other tech centers have always been popular landing places for young engineers, with their lure of cutting-edge technology and top-notch pay. But aerospace companies are facing an even stiffer challenge as Web and computer companies, and other sectors like the auto industry, move into areas like drones and autonomous systems.

Aerospace employers are realizing they have to dig deeper — and adjust their messaging — to capture top tech talent. They are starting to reach out earlier to potential employees — as early as elementary school or even pre-kindergarten — to get them interested in science and math. And they’re recognizing the challenge they have building awareness with a generation that never had a real space race, but grew up with Google, Snapchat and Apple as part of their daily lives.

Lockheed Martin Corp. has launched a program called Generation Beyond aimed at encouraging middle school students’ interest in deep space exploration. The initiative includes a class curriculum, a downloadable Mars weather app and a traveling school bus modified so that children riding it can see the Martian landscape through the windows. Click here. (1/5)

How Do Presidents Figure Out Their Science Policy? (Source: Inverse)
One of the president’s most important responsibilities is fostering science, technology and innovation in the U.S. economy. The relationship between science and policy runs in two directions: Scientific knowledge can inform policy decisions, and conversely, policies affect the course of science, technology and innovation.

Historically, government spending on science has been good for the economy. Innovation is estimated to drive approximately 85 percent of economic growth. Not only does it provide a means for “creative destruction” within the economy, it also results in reduced costs for products and services that consumers demand. The United States prides itself as the most innovative country in the world, but how did it get that way?

President-elect Trump has made clear he intends to boost the economy’s growth rate and supporting science and technology should be a vital part of his plan. So how does an American president settle on research priorities for the country? And once he has a science and innovation agenda, how does he move it forward to eventually seed new industries that have the potential to generate jobs and improve the country’s competitiveness? (1/4)

The Future of Space Travel Looking Increasingly Chinese (Source: ABC.au)
Space - as it's so often said - is the final frontier. But 2017 is already shaping up as a year when humankind will be launching a growing number of space missions to push back those frontiers ever further. Even so, it seems would-be space travellers might need to keep their plans in check, with promises about the emergence of space-tourism seemingly no closer to becoming reality.

But, as space flight analyst Dr Morris Jones has been telling me, the future of space is looking increasingly Chinese. That's right. Well, China has really been the rising space power of the 21st century.

They've become the third nation to develop their own astronaut launch system. In 2016 they launched their second space laboratory and they sent two astronauts to live on that laboratory for a month. And that's the longest mission that they've ever flown to date. (1/4)

India to Launch 103 Satellites in One Go (Source: Deccan Herald)
The Indian Space Research Organization is set to create a record soon by putting 103 satellites into outer space by using its polar satellite launch vehicle (PSLV). “We are making a century by launching over 100 satellites at one go,” said S Somnath, director, ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion System Centre, at the 104th Indian Science Congress here on Wednesday.

Most of them are micro satellites, while the principal payload would be Cartosat-2D, which would provide less than one metre resolution images over a distance of 10 km. In 2016, Isro launched 22 satellites at one go. The space agency earlier planned to carry out the launch towards the end of January with 83 satellites, out of which 80 were foreign ones. (1/5)

NASA Should Build a Superhighway in Space (Source: Scientific American)
Donald Trump will take power any minute now, and we need to take advantage of the change in the White House to change NASA's focus. Why? NASA needs to get out of the rocket business and shift its attention to a permanent space transport infrastructure, an Eisenhower-style highway in the sky. An infrastructure with...

Gas stations (propellant depots); Rest stops and permanent housing—roomy human habitats with windows and vegetable gardens; Truck stops and freight yards—logistics bases with cargo-handling equipment; Trucks, SUVs, and dune buggies—Moon-and-Mars ground vehicles; plus tugs to haul loads around in space; Fuel production equipment—units to turn the water of the Moon and Mars into rocket fuel, breathable oxygen, and drinkable water; etc. Click here. (1/4)

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